Book Review: The Taking of Jake Livingston

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Jake Livingston is one of the only Black kids at St. Clair Prep, one of the others being his infinitely more popular older brother. As if fitting in wasn’t hard enough, Jake can see the dead. In fact, he sees the dead around him all the time. Most are harmless and stuck in their death loops as they relive their deaths over and over again without interacting often with people. But then Jake meets Sawyer, a troubled teen who shot and killed six kids at a local high school last year before taking his own life. Now a powerful, vengeful ghost, Sawyer has plans for his afterlife - plans that include Jake.

THE TAKING OF JAKE LIVINGSTON first caught my eye because of the comparisons to the movie Get Out. I’ll pretty much read anything compared to one of my all-time favorite horror movies. I think the examination of race and microaggressions definitely hits that mark, but if you’re looking for a similar story, this is something totally different. I mean that in the best way!

THE TAKING OF JAKE LIVINGSTON is a fantastic take on paranormal meets thriller meets horror. This book has so much to unpack and was a much deeper story than I expected when I first picked it up. The subject matter can at times be difficult to read about. I found the chapters where the reader was given insight into Sawyer’s mind to be a lot darker than I expect from a YA book, but they were powerful, important to the overall story, and very well written. It’s hard to talk about the plot without giving anything away, but it’s an easy book to recommend for anyone interested in the mixture of genres this book falls into. My only issue was that I felt the progression of the story stalled at times in the middle of the book, but it never stopped me from wanting to know more and loving the book. I look forward to reading more by Ryan Douglass in the future!